Central Connecticut State University alumna Beryl Piper returns for her fourth season as head coach. The 1987 graduate has guided the Blue Devils to consecutive Northeast Conference Tournament semifinals in 2009 and 2010. Over the last two seasons Central has recorded 30 wins including 20 conference victories. The 30 wins over two years were the most for a Blue Devil squad since the 88-89 and 89-90 seasons.
The Blue Devils won 12 games in 2009-10, including eight conference games and earned the sixth seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament. It was the Blue Devils second consecutive NEC Tournament berth. Piper's squad upset third seeded Sacred Heart 63-51 to advance to the semifinals before falling to Long Island University 61-55. Central's back-to-back tournament berths were the first since 2004-05 and 2005-06.
In the second season under Piper, CCSU finished with the best turnaround in the nation, improving from four wins in 2007-08 to 18 wins in 2008-09. Central finished with a 12-6 record in the Northeast Conference and was the second seed in the NEC Tournament. After falling to St. Francis (PA) in the conference semifinals (73-62), the Blue Devils were selected to play in the Women's National Invitational Tournament. It marked the first time in the school's NCAA Division I history that the team qualified for post conference tournament playoff action.
After two seasons as head coach at CCSU, Piper has guided two players to NEC All-Rookie Team honors and in 2009 sophomore Kerrianne Dugan earned the first All-NEC selection during Piper's tenure. Dugan became the first Blue Devil to earn conference accolades under Piper's guidance, receiving all-rookie team honors after leading the Blue Devils in points, rebounds, assists and steals in 2007-08. Shontice Simmons garnered all-rookie team accolades the next season after leading Central in points, assists and steals as a freshman. Dugan was only the fourth player in school history to receive All-NEC honors, as she picked up a second team selection during the 2008-09 season.
Piper collected her first collegiate victory at Stony Brook on Dec. 12, 2007, leading the Blue Devils to a 61-59 win. She earned her first Northeast Conference win on January 7, 2008 as CCSU defeated Wagner, 62-54, on the road in overtime. The first win of Piper's career in Detrick Gymnasium followed a week later when Central defeated St. Francis (PA), 72-64.
CCSU President Jack Miller and recently retired Director of Athletics Charles, C.J., Jones announced Piper as the fourth women's basketball coach in University history on Tuesday, June 12, 2007. Piper, a 1999 CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, joined the Blue Devils after spending 19 seasons as the head coach at nearby New Britain High School.
"I was very pleased to welcome Beryl Piper back to Central Connecticut State University," Miller said. "As an alumna, she has a great passion for our university and our women's basketball program. Coach Piper has a remarkable winning record and is a champion. I'm sure she can develop a winning formula for the future of CCSU's women's basketball."
Piper guided the Golden Hurricanes to three state titles, compiling a 289-151 record. New Britain won its first in 1998 and added back-to-back championships over her final two seasons. Beginning in 1998, Piper also won seven consecutive Central Connecticut Conference South Division championships. She added two north division crowns in her last two seasons there.
Piper's New Britain team finished the 2006-07 season with a 22-3 record en route to winning a second consecutive Class LL state championship. A Trumbull, CT native, Piper was named the Connecticut High School Coaches Association 2007 Coach of the Year. Additionally, she was presented with the 2007 Merit Award by the CIAC Girls Basketball Committee and was named the 2007 Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance Doc McInerney Coach of the Year in a female sport. In 2008 she was inducted into the New Britain Sports Hall of Fame.
"This was the perfect time for me to make this transition," Piper said at the time of her hiring. "Central Connecticut gave me a chance to be a player and now is giving me a chance as a coach. I feel I worked hard to become successful as a player. As a coach, I will use the same work ethic to make the University and community proud of the women's basketball program."
Piper was a three-sport athlete at Trumbull High and is now a member of the school's hall of fame. She then went on to attend CCSU, where she played basketball under the legendary Brenda Reilly.
A four-year player and co-captain of the 1985-86 women's basketball team, Piper helped lead the Blue Devils to a 24-4 mark as a senior. That team, which reached the NCAA Division II quarterfinals, holds the record for most wins and best winning percentage in program history. She also participated in Blue Devil softball. As a senior, Piper won the Gail Rutz Award as CCSU's outstanding female student-athlete. She went on to play professionally for Team Blarney in Ireland, where she was part of the 1986-87 national championship team.
In addition to being one of 11 women's basketball members in the Central Connecticut Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame, Piper has received the Rebecca McCord Award for Athletic and Academic Excellence from the University.
She earned her master's degree in health education from Southern Connecticut in 1991 and completed 30 credits beyond her master's in 2003 at the University of Hartford.
Piper, who also served as a physical education teacher at New Britain High, began her coaching career as a junior varsity coach and varsity assistant coach at Northwest Catholic High School in 1987-88, during which the varsity team won a state title. She moved on to New Britain for the following season, inheriting a 0-20 team. She concluded her run at NBHS with 11 straight winning seasons. Over her last 10 seasons, Piper compiled a 200-49 record.
The third-year coach resides in Burlington, CT.